Local Election

Here’s what to know before you vote for a Bellingham City Council at-large candidate

Both candidates running for the at-large City Council seat are concerned about housing affordability. Dana Briggs, who is homeless despite having a job, has advocated for homeless people and Hollie Huthman is concerned people are being priced out of Bellingham.

In the Aug. 6 primary, Huthman received 67% of votes and Briggs got 21%.

The non-partisan, part-time position pays $26,000 annually during the two-year term. The rate rises 3% annually according to Bellingham Municipal Code, for $27,938 in 2020.

The post is currently held by Hannah Stone, who is running for Ward 1.

All Bellingham voters cast ballots in all wards in the general election.

General ballots will be mailed Oct. 18. Ballots don’t need a stamp but must be postmarked by Election Day. Ballot drop boxes open Oct. 18 and close at 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 5.

These are the candidates for Bellingham’s at-large City Council member:

DANA BRIGGS

Briggs, 64, is a cook at St. Joseph Hospital.

Bio: He has two grown sons and three grandchildren. He has a master’s degree in management from Central Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree in geography from the U.S. Air Force Academy. He also has a certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Washington. He lived in Bellingham from 1993 to 2003 and returned in 2016. He has been an activist for housing, the environment and civil and human rights at the local and national level.

Neighborhood: Homeless.

Funds raised: No funds raised or spent filed. Briggs selected the “mini-reporting option” with the state Public Disclosure Commission, which exempts candidates from filing campaign finance reports if they don’t exceed $5,000 in contributions and take no individual donations greater than $500.

A trait that makes him uniquely suited for this position: “I am always looking for the reasons why we can do something, as opposed to too many individuals who are always looking for the reasons why we can’t do something,” Briggs said.

An issue of personal interest to him: Despite working full time, Briggs said he is unable to save enough money to rent a place in Bellingham. He is currently living in a motel. “I have been advocating for homeless people on and off with a number of non-profit, spoken in front of the city and the county council on homeless issues for almost two years now,” Briggs said.

Website: Dana Briggs for City Council on Facebook.

HOLLIE HUTHMAN

Huthman, 38, is co-owner of The Shakedown/The Racket bar and lounge.

Bio: She graduated from Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in criminology, and has lived in seven Bellingham neighborhoods in the past two decades — mostly as a renter. Huthman also worked as a lender at WECU and now chairs the board of directors of the art venue Make.Shift.

Neighborhood: Cornwall.

Funds raised: $6,299 early Sept. 17, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

Funds spent: $4,801.

Largest contributors: Washington State Democrats contributed $767. International Association of Fire Fighters Local 106 gave $600. Huthman donated $632 to her own campaign.

A trait that makes her uniquely suited for this position: “I have always had the quality of — and I find this to be very admirable and desirable in other politicians as well — I am somebody that can listen to multiple sides of an issue and multiple perspectives, really hear and try to understand the perspectives of others — especially those I disagree with — and make sure people feel heard.”

An issue of personal interest to her: “I think the housing affordability and availability issue affects me personally because I was a renter for so long in town. And then, two years ago, I was lucky enough to become a homeowner,” Huthman said. “I started to get really concerned that all the wonderful people in my community that contribute to our community in so many different ways ... creatively or that work in nonprofits. I felt like I wanted to make sure those people can also stay in the community.”

Endorsements: Sierra Club, 42nd District Democrats, Riveters Collective.

Website: Vote Hollie Huthman on Facebook.

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Warren Sterling in a graduate of Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. He interned at Politifact.com before joining The Bellingham Herald as a summer 2019 intern.
Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with the high cost of housing for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he’s also a volunteer firefighter for South Whatcom Fire Authority.
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